CloseCircle recently sponsored the Mongol Rally team the ‘Slow and Mild Tempered’ in their extreme adventure. Matt, Henry and Dan had the task of travelling across 10,000 miles of mountain, desert and extremely dangerous terrain, in a tiny scrap car. There’s no backup, no support and no set route… But the Slow and Mild Tempered had a virtual bodyguard in their back pocket… us!
With all team members signed up to CloseCircle, their families were able to live-track their travels from home. They received the Risk Alerts during their trip, alerting them to any nearby danger, and had the comfort of knowing if they were to come into any serious physical danger, they would be evacuated by CloseCircle specialists at no extra cost.
After recovering from their 53 day trip we got in contact with the boys to hear about how CloseCircle helped them on their journey….
Hi Henry! You recently took part in the Mongol Rally. Can you tell us a little bit about your trip?
Along with two friends, we took on the challenge of driving a small 1.1. litre Suzuki from London 10, 000 miles to Mongolia and finish at Ulan Ude in central Russia. The whole journey took 53 days and saw us across 18 countries.
Wow what an achievement, what were the highlights and low points?
- The launch party at an old Soviet rocket testing facility
- Convoying and meeting with all the other teams
- Conquering the second most dangerous road in the world (the D915 in Eastern Turkey) with our friends in a three wheeled Reliant
- Hitting golf balls into a flaming gas crater in Turkmenistan
- All of Mongolia!
- Spending 8 days in the Czech Republic while getting our engine rebuilt, and waiting for a new cam shaft to be delivered after the mechanic snapped ours in half
- Spending 82 hours on a ferry across the Caspian Sea that should have only taken 10
- Driving 3000km in 3 days across Kazakhstan
Would you recommend doing the Mongol Rally to others?
Yes, I would. At times it was very frustrating and stressful, however it was an amazing experience and overcoming adversity is exactly what the trip is about. I would certainly advise people to be very well prepared and do as much research as possible beforehand to avoid as many expensive issues as possible.
What were the biggest challenges that you faced along the way?
At the start of the rally issues with the car were frequent and we were all relatively inexperienced mechanics. Issues later on in the rally more came down to the stresses of the trip and living rough with poor food and little sleep. Keeping morale high was important and at times we were definitely tested. We had been anxious about corrupt police officers and border guards in the later countries on the trip (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan). It was a challenge to be constantly aware of this and stay vigilant to avoid any issues.
So, did you find CloseCircle helped you overcome the challenges you faced on your trip?
Close Circle undoubtedly made us feel more at ease in countries with reputations for being unsafe, and the proximity warnings did make us aware of certain issues earlier than others. For example, we were one of the first groups on the rally to hear about the six cyclists that had been murdered on the Pamir highway just a week or two before we were meant to cross that route. We made everyone aware of this and ensured we had a convoy over the mountains for better security.
It was also useful when we broke down early on in the rally and needed a garage/ tow truck. We were struggling to do any research just on our phones however, at home my Dad was able to get our exact location on CloseCircle and found the numbers we needed.
Fantastic! And how easy was it to set up on the app?
I managed to set up all the members of my family and my girlfriend on our CloseCircle Family account very easily. I received instant account activation instructions on setting up the account, and having read these, it was really very simple and intuitive.
How did it feel knowing you had a virtual bodyguard in your pocket during the trip?
It made us feel better knowing we had support if we ever needed it, which was particularly important during the more dangerous legs of our journey.
How did you find the CloseCircle risk alerts?
The alerts were quick and informative which was very useful at the time, and the situation updates through email were also very interesting.
If you hadn’t had CloseCircle with you, how would this have impacted your trip?
Our route and schedule was planned months before we set off. However, CloseCircle did provide useful information and also warned us of floods in Mongolia that made our previously planned route through the North of the country much harder to pass, meaning we adopted the central route to make it through. It definitely put family and friends back home at ease however, being able to see our exact location and knowing that we had full protection if something were to happen.
How likely are you to recommend CloseCircle to a friend?
I would definitely recommend it to a friend who is undertaking any trip that is risky enough to warrant it.
For more travel safe advice, get in touch with the CloseCircle team today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about the benefits of becoming a CloseCircle member here.